Al Yeganeh, “The Original SoupMan” who inspired Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi” character on the popular TV show, reopened his store in Manhattan earlier this summer and I had to pay a visit.
Yeganeh, who hates the “Soup Nazi” character, apparently did not show up for the ceremonial cutting of a zucchini to reopen his store. He even banned Jerry Seinfeld from his stall after the “Soup Nazi” episode aired in November 1995.
For 20 years Yeganeh had very strict rules for his customers: “Pick the soup you want! Have your money ready! Move to the extreme left after ordering!” and if you fail to obey these rules there is “no soup for you!”
Yaganeh sold the rights to his business in 2004 and closed his 100 square foot stall on 55th street. He still, however, controls the brand and his famous lobster bisque, mulligatawny, crab bisque, and lentil soups.
Bob Bertrand, “The Original SoupMan” president, said, “He’s still the heart of the company. We cannot change the recipes, we do not change the recipes, every time we want to have a new soup he develops it for us. We have the rules, but they’re not enforced.
Bertrand responded to Yaganeh’s failure to show up to the reopening, “That’s his mystique. He’s an artist and all artists are a little bit eccentric. This is his passion, he takes pride and he takes his soup very, very seriously.”
He added, “As much as they depicted him in Seinfeld, he’s a businessman, he knew people were waiting for an hour, he didn’t have time to chit chat. Move the line, get more people in, sell more soup.”
As much as the “Soup Nazi” character made him famous, Bertrand said Yaganeh has “never embraced Seinfeld.”
Review: The soup is simply amazing! Just one tip…follow the rule. Place your order, pay and move to the left. If there is no bread in the bag…forget it and leave.